Much has been made of how much the Shatnerless Kirk is going to make or break the new Star Trek film, but the real emotional crux of this film is Zachary Quinto’s Spock, who also serves as the bridge from the old series to the new thanks to Enterprise original Leonard Nimoy playing the elder Spock. Chris Pine has some leeway because William Shatner isn’t there, but Quinto is going to have the harshest light of comparison shined on him thanks to being side by side with Nimoy. Yet, Quinto doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he was glad to have him there to help him get ready to take on the role.
“In terms of preparation, I immersed myself in a great deal of reading,” Quinto says. “There’s certainly no shortage of information. There are tomes and volumes of encyclopedias and resource material that I utilized, and also Leonard as a direct resource. He was so available and supportive and open to my questions, many of which had more to do with the impact that this character had on his life than about any specific moments or how to play a specific moment. I felt that it was my job as an actor to define for myself.”
There was more than just boning up on Star Trek lore involved in his research, though. “There was a group of us that had a Star Trek boot camp for a few months leading up to shooting – Chris Pine, John Cho, myself – in preparation for some of the physical that we would do in the movie. I also did a lot of hand exercises to make sure that my fingers could do the Vulcan salute. That’s no lie, actually – I would rubber band my pinkie and my ring finger together and drive around Los Angeles, because I couldn’t do it at first. Physically, to me, this character is a lot about containment and stillness, so it was a matter of cultivating that relationship to the character.”
Long-time Trek fans have been nervous about the fact that director J.J. Abrams wasn’t a big fan of the series originally, and they may have their reservations about their new half-Vulcan as well. “I was not a Trekkie growing up,” Quinto admits. “I came of age in the Star Wars generation, so I was much more enamored of those characters because they were more accessible to me. Star Trek was a little bit before my time, and it was also dealing with themes and ideas that I think were a little intellectually advanced for my young mind at the time.”
Yet, he seems to have developed a keen understanding of what made this series so great, now that he’s older. “The whole movie represents diversity,” he states. “When we meet this version of Spock and this version of Kirk, they exist at diametrically-opposed ends of the spectrum of thinking, and through the course of this film, they begin to soften the edges of resistance to any other way of thinking and in so doing, understand that in unity exists an advantage and the advancement of the common good. I think that’s something that the entire crew of the Enterprise represents, coming from such diverse and disparate backgrounds to unify. For me, this convergence says a lot about the power of unity, and that speaks to the political and social resonance of the film.”
It sounds like the legacy of Star Trek is in well-intentioned hands.